Former Ballet Austin dancer takes "The Lion King" stage


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and Photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

Posted on January 18, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 18 at 7:21 PM

AUSTIN -- One of the most popular musicals of all time is opening in Austin. "The Lion King" is a stage adaptation of the Academy Award-winning 1994 Disney film.

The show is starting a three-and-a-half week run at the University of Texas' Bass Concert Hall.

For the next few weeks, 148 cast and crew members will keep the show going. For one of the performers, it's a chance to come back to a place she called home.

Kendra Moore says being a part of the popular show is a lifelong dream come true. She's a dance captain in this touring production.

"I was five years old when I got into dance, and I saw my first dance performance and fell in love,” Moore said.

Moore knows the moves to every female part and fills in where ever she's needed.

“In the performing cast we have about 48 people, and that's onstage and off stage,” Moore said. “We also have swings and understudies. We have to have the show covered at all times, of course, if someone gets sick as we all do.”

Moore learned her craft as a young woman at Ballet Austin.

“It's where I grew up as a dancer. It's where I learned to be professional and my craft,” Moore said.

Friday Moore stopped by her old stomping grounds to visit a dear friend and a man who helped shape her career -- Stephen Mills, the artistic director of Ballet Austin.

“Kendra came to Ballet Austin in 1989, at that time I was a dancer with the company and the resident choreographer,” Mills said. “She was a young girl fresh out of high school, just beginning her dance career.”

Mills is thrilled to see how far his student and friend has come.

“There are a lot of people who aspire to be professional dancers and very few actually achieve that goal,” Mills said. “It takes a real desire, a real push, to achieve what Kendra's achieved.”

Moore hopes the story of her success will spur this next generation of dancers forward.

“I'm very thankful to be back here and back where I started my career. It's really special,” she said.

"The Lion King" runs through Feb. 10 at Bass Concert Hall. Click here for more information.